Editorial CROLAR 3 - English version



Oscar Gabriel Vivallo Urra & Editorial Committee CROLAR




The American continent has a long tradition of anticolonial forms of resistance, which were established in the Conquista period and revived during the independence processes. More recently, especially in the context of free-trade agreements (FTA) and the establishment of neoliberal models in the region, Latin-American actors have been some of the first in self-organizing against these natural resources and labor exploitation models, besides opposing dependency and oppression based on traditional powers and knowledge asymmetries. Later on, in 1994, the Chiapas Zapatistas were the most prominent and inspiring representatives of a significant variety of other subsequent social resistance processes.


From this perspective, one can find a wide variety of publications about Resistance and Social Movements, the central theme of this third volume of CROLAR. In this sense, the journal offers as its thematic focus an analytic reflection on many contentious movements that have adopted the form of social protests, presenting a high level of organization, in Latin America and the United States (North America). All of these protest and social resistance movements present a similar axis of political contestation against neoliberal development models, as well as against the concentration of economic and political power, its causes and historical roots. Beyond the wide experience of social struggles in Latin America, the subject has received more attentionfrom 2011, when the world has witnessed the emergence of many social movements, from the Occupy movement and the Chilean student movement, to the “le Républiquenatives” and the activists of the so-called “Arab Spring”. Confronted with the economic crisis and social precariousness, these actors have articulated important critiques of political and economic models, in different parts of the world. Theanalytical focus is centered on multiple protest and social resistance movements, which present a similar axis of political contestation against neoliberal development models, as well as against the concentration of economic and political power, its causes and historical roots.


It is because of this that the reviews in this third volume constitute an important critical debate resource, in relation to the most recent publications focused (directly or indirectly) on conflict and resistance processes, as well as the origin and development of countless social movements. From a general viewpoint, Eleonora Rabinovich, Ana Lucía Magrini and Omar Rincón integrate a series of interviews, testimonials and texts, about experiences of social struggle and mobilization in various Latin-American countries in their book “Vamos a portarnos Mal”. Prevost Gary, Carlos Oliva Campos and Harry E. Vanden are the editors of the book “Social Movements and leftist Governments in Latin America: confrontation or cooptation?”, in which they try to analyze the complex relationship between leftist governments and social movements in Latin America. In the same way, still focused on the theoretical academic debate, the German translation of Walter Mignolo’s “Desobediencia Epistémica” is commented upon, where editors Tom Waibel and Jens Kastner intervene in an academic debate by proposing a broad discussion on decolonial thought in Germany. Their proposals suggest strategies for the decentering of Western thought, on the basis of a critical reflection on the interdependence of the “rhetoric of modernity” and the “logic of coloniality.”


Besides the commentaries to publications of theoretical reach, which deal with the Latin-American situation in a general manner, the third volume of CROLAR includes reviews that summarize scientific contributions, in national or local contexts. In the Ecuadorean case, Marco Navas Alvear’s book “Lo público Insurgente” analyzes the contentious process, called the Revuelta de Los Forajidos, which happened in 2005 in Ecuador. From the perspective of the public and proposing the concept of publicización as an analytical tool, he tries to establish a direct relation between the contentious phenomenon of the Revuelta and the political crisis that happened in Ecuador.


The Argentinean case is dealt with in the book by Marina A. Sitrin, “Everyday Revolutions – Horizontalism and Autonomy in Argentina”, where the emergence of new social movements are analyzed, from the rupture generated by the economy’s collapse, the State’s debt crisis and the famous corralito. Moreover, in the fields of discourse and literature, the books “La Comuna de Buenos Aires. Relatos al Pie del 2001”, by writer and feminist activist María Moreno, and “La Tendencia Materialista. Antología Crítica de la Poesia de los 90”, edited by Violeta Kesselman, Ana Mazzoni and Damián Selci, are commented upon. The value of the first consists in retrospectively revealing the discursive tension that underlay the economic, political social commotion with which the Argentinean neoliberal model ended up collapsing. The second focuses on a group of Argentinean poets that received and channeled – by means of writing – all the disappointment that spread across youth in the 90s, on the basis of the reality that this South-American country was going through.


Nina Elsemann’s book, “Umkämpfte Erinnerungen: Die Bedeutung lateinamerikanischer Erfahrungen für die spanische Geschichtspolitik nach Franco”, is centered, on the one side, on the ties between the political histories of Argentina and Chile and, on the other, the protracted and controverted transition process in Spain. She indicates that the unexpected height of the culture of memory in Spanish public opinion cannot be explained only by internal political changes at the national level, but also by the transfers and translations between the debates in Spain and those that take place in other societies related to Spanish culture and language.


The Chilean reality is expressed in the books by Hugo Fazio, “Indignación: Causales económicas”, and Gabriel Salazar, “Movimientos Sociales en Chile”. The first two grant a prevalent role to the mobilizations that took place in Chile in 2011; the first finds their causes in the socio-economic field and in the hegemony of the market, while the second conducts a detailed examination of Chilean constitutional and social history, filling an important gap in the understanding of social movements in Chile with his analysis.


In the Classics Revisited section we remember Paulo Freire, with the 1969 edition of his book “¿Extensión o Comunicación? Sobre los Profesionales y el Conocimiento en el (no) Diálogo de Saberes”, which analyzes the role of the knowledge of professionals and technicians in social change, from the standpoint of the critical analysis of rural extension as the unidirectional expansion of knowledge and culture invasion. His notion of communication, understood as a liberating pedagogy to professional praxis in the

human-nature, human-technology and knowledge-nature relationships, is commented upon here. In Freire’s reflection it is possible to recognize the topicality of his ideas for countless of Latin-American actors, men and women, responsible for linking themselves to social movements and to farmer and native cooperation movements, with the purpose of giving way to sustainable, democratic, and associative development strategies, which contribute to improving farmer and native life, taking care of the natural environment and democratizing rural life, from the standpoint of grass-roots participation.


In the Interventions section, two books that thematized two social movements of high impact in the last years are commented upon. On the one side, Alberto Mayol’s “No al lucro. De la Crisis del Modelo a la Nueva era de la Política” deals with the 2011 Chilean student mobilizations. Mayol offers a strong critique of the Chilean development model, presenting in his text the controversial concept of politizaciónso as to deal with a new sociopolitical trajectory for Chilean society. On the other side, Carla Blumenkranz et al.’s book “Occupy! Die ersten Wochen in New York. Eine Dokumentation” consists of the German translation of some of the first interventions published by Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement actors. The book offers a written testimonial of the 2011 United States’ movement, as well as the editors’ analysis, which – along with various leftist intellectuals, such as Slavoj Žižek – contextualizes, analyzes and prognosticates the protests of the so-called “99 percent”.


Finally, in the Current Debates section, the book by Evelyne Huber and John D. Stephens, “Democracy and the Left. Social Policy and Inequality in Latin America” is reviewed. In this publication the trajectory of Latin-American social policy from the import substitution industrialization (ISI) period until today is evaluated, including the retreat that characterized the Washington Consensus period. The idea that reduction of poverty and inequality indexes in democratic contexts is constituted as an argument for the application of redistributive social policies, by leftist governments, is critically commented upon.


Moreover, James McGuires’ publication “Wealth, Health, and Democracy in East Asia and Latin America” is situated at the intersection of political sciences and public health. Although it seems to defy the thematic focus of this volume, it isrecognized asa perspective of development-as-capabilities, where the author observes the development of capabilitiesthat avoid premature deaths, in the specific contexts of public policy and politicsitself.


Ultimately, “Resistance and Social Movements” constitutes CROLAR’s new commitment to critically dialogue with academic and non-academic proposals that relate to contentious social processes – past and present – in the Latin-American context. There is no doubt that the richness of presented publications and their respective reviews offers a multiplicity of analytic and reflective perspectives. This is the satisfaction that critical debate offers: to introduce into the dialectics of dialogue a fruitful exchange of viewpoints, with relation to the agency of peoples for political resistance and social mobilization against the imbricated articulations of power.